Presentation of the ACR Award:&Nbsp; &Quot;Fellow in Consumer Behavior&Quot; to John A. Howard and James F. Engel

Harold H. Kassarjian, University of California, Los Angeles
[ to cite ]:
Harold H. Kassarjian (1981) ,"Presentation of the ACR Award:&Nbsp; &Quot;Fellow in Consumer Behavior&Quot; to John A. Howard and James F. Engel", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 08, eds. Kent B. Monroe, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 6-8.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, 1981      Pages 6-8



Harold H. Kassarjian, University of California, Los Angeles

[Written while visiting professor at the Copenhagen School of Business Administration and Economics, Denmark.]

I consider it a great honor to have been selected to make these first awards for "Fellow in Consumer Behavior", and to share this podium with two unique scholars. For each, in his own way, has had a long term significant impact on the field of consumer behavior. And this award was created to honor just that type of contribution, a long term, major, scholarly impact.

The idea of such an award was not a rapid decision by the Board of Directors. Discussions concerning an ACR award were initiated as early as under the presidency of Joel Cohen, now almost a decade ago. Over the years, numerous individuals were involved and committees appointed to consider the suggestion. It was felt that the fellow award should not be based simply on longevity in the field, or only because a given colleague was well known. It was not intended to be given for a single work, article, book, or monograph. Unlike awards given for "the Best Article", a single major scholarly work would not necessarily qualify for this award. Also a stream of research carried on for several years that may have had an impact on the field might well not qualify for the award.

The status of "Fellow in Consumer Behavior" was to be reserved as recognition to the individual for scholarly contributions spanning not just a few years but rather a distinguished long term commitment.

After several years of deliberation on goals and procedures, the final decision was made that there should be a selection committee composed of a chairman appointed by the president of ACR, and as committee members, the three immediate past presidents of the association. This, it was hoped, would represent a broad spectrum of interests with a committee regarded highly enough to have been elected by the membership as president over a three year span.

The decision of the committee was to be unanimous, for if consensus could not be achieved, the award should not be given that year. The decision was then to be presented to the Board of Directors for confirmation by a 75% affirmative vote. The award will not become a routine event given each year to whomever is still around. There will be no award next year, for example. Also a three year "sunset" provision was enacted to review the program.

The first year, the award committee consisted of James Myers, chairman, appointed by the then president of the association, Keith Hunt. The other members, the three immediate past presidents, were Jerome Kernan, David Gardner and myself. This committee solicited nominations from the membership but under no conditions felt obligated by a vote count or obligated to pay attention to the fact that some potential candidates were or were not nominated. For popularity was not to be one of the criteria. Although enthusiasm by colleagues might be considered, it was clearly not sufficient.

The final decisions were unanimous and enthusiastic. The Board of Directors enthusiastically and unanimously approved the nominations. From zero to three awards may be made each year. The first year, two individuals were thus selected.


The first is Professor John A. Howard, Columbia University. Professor Howard did not start his career in consumer behavior. As you well know, consumer behavior as a field of scientific endeavor did not exist at that time.

His bachelor's degree in economics was from the University of Illinois in 1939 and his Master of Science in Economics in 1941. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1952 with a dissertation on British Monopoly Policy, prepared while at Oxford University in England.

Professor Howard's first teaching assignment was at the University of Illinois. From 1950 to 1958 he was professor at the University of Chicago, then for five years at the University of Pittsburgh. Since then he is professor at Columbia University.

In 1959 he was commissioned by the chairman of the Scott Paper Company to investigate the need for basic research in marketing. That study led to the establishment of the Marketing Science Institute. He has been a consultant to the Department of Commerce and to the Federal Trade commission. His work at the FTC led to the acclaimed monograph, Advertising and the Public Interest, co-authored with James Hulbert. In 1975 he was awarded the Paul D. Converse award for "contributions to theory of marketing and buyer behavior" for four of his publications:

Marketing Management, 1963

Marketing: Executive and Buyer Behavior, 1963

Marketing Theory, 1965

The Theory of Buyer Behavior, 1969, with Jagdish N. Sheth.

As with many other early pioneers in this field, Ford Foundation money was to take on a significant role in Professor Howard's career. Today many of us are unaware of the pivotal role the Ford Foundation had played. In their effort to upgrade business schools, marketing scholars were encouraged to incorporate the behavioral sciences, mathematics, and other basic scientific disciplines into their research, teaching, and thinking.

In 1960, Howard was commissioned by the Foundation to do a two-year study on the state of knowledge in Marketing. The results of that study led to the monograph, Marketing: Executive and Buyer Behavior. This was the embryo from which Howard and Sheth's, The Theory of Consumer Behavior was to emerge, and in fact that monograph was quite influential on the development of the Eagle, Kollat and Blackwell model as presented in their text.

In turn, the roots of Executive and Buyer Behavior appeared earlier yet in Howard's intellectual career. For in the first edition of his Marketing Management textbook, Howard discussed buyer behavior from a behavioral science perspective. His very first model of the consumer was an adaptation of Clark Hull=s learning theory to behavior found in the marketplace. By the time of the second edition in 1963, this view had been expanded to almost a chapter length discussion of behavioral science in marketing. And tangentially, another new topic was given an embryonic introduction - mathematical models and stochastic learning theory. This work was expanded in the monograph, Marketing Theory, in 1965 and culminating, as already mentioned, in The Theory of Buyer Behavior in 1969. Part of a one-half million dollar program at Columbia to build, test, and apply a theory of consumer research, this stream of activity led to several doctoral dissertations as well as to follow-up research and conceptualization by Howard and his colleagues. This work led to numerous papers and the monograph, Consumer Behavior: Applications of Theory in 1977. Unlike so many builders of grand theory, Howard has been most interested and involved in testing his models. And this may have been his major accomplishment - the one he can be quite proud of. But, Howard played another role in Consumer Behavior - a role, that now, few may recognize. Howard was not a renegade, he was not a rebel with a bag full of new gimmicks called behavioral science and learning theory with which to dazzle the staid establishment in marketing. For Howard was part of the marketing establishment - in a time when marketing consisted of a bit of economic theory, wholesaling, transportation, etc. New fangled ideas were not easily being accepted into the establishment and marketing people simply tended to be hostile to behavioral science and mathematics. Programs at the American Marketing Association were typically not available to those interested in the behavioral sciences. Papers on psychological topics or even landmark work on stochastic models were generally not acceptable to the journals and programs of the day.

John Howard was a member of that establishment - he had authored a widely used text in marketing management, and yet he was willing to integrate some of chase new ideas into the field and to encourage unorthodox research. If for nothing else, it is for that role of creative innovator, open-mindedness, scholarly rigor and respectability, and a leadership role of which he may not even have been aware, that we are in debt to Professor Howard. The rest of us could point to the work of Howard to support the introduction of basic behavioral research into the business schools. For here was a respected member of the establishment using the term buyer behavior.

Fittingly, and with humility, Professor Howard was selected as one of the first two recipients of the "Fellow in Consumer Behavior" award, (and I quote), "For focusing attention on the importance of consumer behavior and for pioneering work in conceptualizing consumer decision making''. Professor Howard, we thank you.


The second person to receive the first awarding of the "Fellow in Consumer Behavior" recognition is Professor James F. Engel. Professor Engel is from another academic generation than his co-recipient and revolved in a different orbit. Not trained in economics and not a member of the establishment at the time, Engel was the beginning of a new breed. He entered Drake University in 1952 with an interest in music and a drama scholarship only to switch his major to marketing because several of his friends were majoring in marketing. And so, a career was launched.

Under the influence of Professor Martin Zober, one of the early people who felt that marketing should take the consumer seriously, Engel took electives in psychology, social psychology and cultural anthropology - something mighty unusual at the time.

Turning down attractive fellowships for graduate work from other Big 10 Universities, Eagle matriculated at the University of Illinois at the end of an era of ferment and excitement - the time of P. O. Converse, Huegy, Hugh Wales and the young new kid on the block - Bob Ferber. Under the influence of Wales and the work Wales and Ferber had been doing on motivation research, again Engel turned to social psychology for his minor area and to a methodological study of motivation research for his dissertation.

His first professional position was to be at the University of Michigan where he began the integration of the behavioral sciences into an advertising course - the same course, by the way, where other behavioral types throughout the land were being relegated. And it was here that he conceived his Promotional Strategy book with Wales and published his laudatory work on cognitive dissonance. For its time, this paper was a fine piece of empirical research integrating social science concepts and methodology into advertising and marketing. Those, along with the promotion book and a paper on perception were among the early attempts at borrowing concepts, middle-range theories, and methodologies from psychology and applying them to consumer behavior in the marketplace.

But, at his university, as in so many other business schools, this type of work and this type of research thrust was neither appreciated nor understood. It did not mesh with the established norms of academic activity. The time had come to move to The Ohio State University. Here, within a short time, a critical mass, a symbiotic relationship, emerged as a consumer behavior group was formed by Engel, Kollat and Blackwell and the contributions of a graduate student, Larry Light. The culmination of that effort was the first true textbook in the field, Engel, Kollat and Blackwell's consumer behavior trilogy. Now in its third edition, and the fourth being conceptualized, that text has unquestionably become the standard work in the field by which all other texts, course outlines and course content are compared and categorized. Throughout the land, courses in Consumer Behavior were introduced with the EKB Table of Contents as the outline. What was left for other authors and publishers of texts was to attempt to carve out a small market share below or around the EKB positioning, for it is still the standard work in the field.

But the Engel contribution is far more than an article on dissonance, a paper on longitudinal analysis, a study on the use of self-medication drugs, or the co-authoring of a text, or any of his 60 other papers, books and articles. For the name James Engel, in many ways is synonymous with the Association for Consumer Research and the field of consumer behavior.

Perhaps the key turning point of the academic discipline of consumer behavior can be traced back to a meeting at Purdue University in 1966. King, Bass, Pessimeir and others at Purdue invited the promising young men in the field of marketing to attend a week-long conference. Engel and Light presented a paper on cognitive dissonance and a model of consumer behavior - the nucleus of the EKB model. It was here that various people interested in consumer behavior began to realize that throughout the land, there were others with similar interests and experiences and on-going research. For this was the debut, the debutante ball, not only for Engel and others of similar vision but for the field itself. Consumer Behavior need not be the ugly duckling of marketing but rather might be an interdisciplinary field of scientific endeavor in its own right.

In the end, it was Engel who did not let the fledgling swan wilt but with his colleagues nursed and nurtured it to its outgrowth - the 1969 Ohio State Workshop on Consumer Behavior (three dozen people meeting with a thrill of intellectual companionship that few had experienced before - under the guiding hands of James Engel).

When this association was formed that Saturday afternoon, with everyone tossing in a ten dollar bill to get it launched, I think I shall never forget glancing at Jim Engel. He had just smiled at a colleague - I believe either Kollat or Blackwell - a smile I perceived as a self satisfied grin of accomplishment - proclaiming with his eyes, "we pulled it off, we launched the organization".

Yes, professor, you pulled it off. You fathered, you wet nursed an interdisciplinary field of scientific endeavor. And now, for his intellectual stimulation, for his writings and research, for his leadership, for his "significant impact on scholarly work in consumer behavior", the Association for Consumer Research presents him with the award, "Fellow in Consumer Behavior", (and I quote) "In recognition of his singular contribution to the systematic study of consumer behavior". Professor Engel, we thank you.